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A high-class call girl kills a customer in self-defense. To avoid scandal, her parents try to have her declared mentally incompetent. Not helping matters is that she is very distrustful of everybody, including her court-appointed attorney, and is very disruptive during her court hearings. Written by
Tony Berkoff <email@example.com>
Mark Rydell was the first director attached to this film, with Barbra Streisand interested in playing Claudia. However, Rydell cast the younger Debra Winger instead. Then Streisand came back after Winger pulled out. Then Rydell left the project, and Streisand hired Martin Ritt. Streisand says she was genuinely frightened of Leslie Nielsen, who managed to convince her he was dangerous. She says she wishes she had "fought back" more in their dramatic sequence together, but that he really did scare her. See more »
After viewing this superior film, a viewer might wonder where in blazes the original idea came from; The Twilight Zone or ripped from todays headlines. This film is laden with so much talent I'm surprised it didn't establish itself as a mega movie. The premise is that of a talented lawyer, Aaron Levinsky, ably played by Richard Dreyfuss, who is forcibly thrust into a competency case which he does not want. His adversary is a formidably D.A, Francis MacMillan (Robert Webber) who has spent a considerable amount of time putting unwanted criminals and mental undesirables, behind bars. Thus he sees no reason why he should spend more time than necessary on a simple case of mental incompetency. Unfortunately for him the woman in question is spirited, independent Claudia Draper, (Barbra Streisand) who is desperate to have her day in court. Arrayed against her aside from the D.A. are her loving parents, Karl Malden as Arthur Kirk and Maureen Stapleton as Rose Kirk, who guard a terrible family secret. In addition, there is formidable Eli Wallach as Dr. Herbert A. Morrison, a psychiatrist who is convinced that Draper is insane. In Claudia's eyes, everyone seems hell bent on having her locked up in insane asylum. The courtroom drama is superior as Judge Stanley Murdoch, (James Whitmore ) tries to discover why the authorities want Draper incarcerated. A most convincing performance by all to create a memorable film. ****
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